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Thread: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

  1. #1
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    Default Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    It's that time of year again, where the fish (stripers, largemouth) in our local reservoirs begin targeting the minuscule YOY threadfin, which are TINY, perhaps at most at this time of year, 1.5 inches.

    We were the first boat to launch and the moment we entered a large cove, you could see individual boils throughout.

    I didn't pack any fly stuff because I had no idea what the conditions were going to be, as the topwater bite hadn't really taken off as of yet. And sure enough, the 'conventional' approach of throwing poppers, stickbaits, etc. didn't get many fish on the boat, and we'd see them show interest to our baits, but never fully commit.

    These are a combination of both largies and stripers, but how would one approach this type of surface bite?

    Most of the threadfin flies that I've seen look more like Gizzard Shad, and I haven't found any local ties that mimic this baby Threadfin Shad. Even Gummies are a bit large!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    A muddler or a white woolybugger would probably do for a shad that size. You're just matching the general length and profile and an exact imitation is likely not needed.

    Big fish are lazy fish and they tend to let their smaller brethren do the work
    Expect them to be below the bait balls waiting to pick off stunned baits sinking toward the bottom
    Casting into the center of the maylee isn't going to get noticed.
    It's best to cast forward of the moving school and then let your fly sink below it, giving it some twitches to attract attention.
    Last edited by Rip Tide; 08-21-2017 at 03:31 PM.
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    Quote Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
    Big fish are lazy fish and they tend to let their smaller brethren do the work
    Expect them to be below the bait balls waiting to pick off stunned baits sinking toward the bottom
    Casting into the center of the maylee isn't going to get noticed.
    It's best to cast forward of the moving school and then let your fly sink below it, giving it some twitches to attract attention.
    Great tip as I saw my buddy getting larger specimens by throwing a sub sinking fluke that sank down beyond the mayhem, and he had 7# and 8# stripers annihilating those baits.

    Later in the year, you can throw a kitchen sink at these fish and get them to go, it's just that at this time, they're so finicky, yet them crashing on top for hours on end, makes it seems like they'd be easy pickings.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    For whites and hybrids busting on the surface I do a couple things. First, I throw a clouser into the mess and strip it quickly to keep it near the top like a fleeing baitfish. A couple tries and if it doesn't work I just chuck it out and start counting down. Short strip and a pause like a wounded shad. Get it underneath the surface feeders and the lower ones will usually nail it. I've always looked at it like the guys on top were committed to their prey. The ones below were waiting for targets of opportunity. The quick sinking clouser lets you work both styles of retrieve quickly.

  5. Default Re: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    A lot of success with the situation you ran into would depend on using the correct sinking fly line. Typically in this situation the minows are close to the surface and the larger fish come up to "bust" them. I would use a type 1 extra slow sink (1" per second sink rate), NOT a clear sinking line but something like the SA frequency sinking line. This would help keep your minnow fly pattern in the feeding zone as long as possible and greatly increase your hook up rate. As far as patterns go I would fish a smaller size fly like a size 8 3lx sparse white bucktail...it kills on local stillwaters. Hope this helps.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    Thanks for all the advice.

    I'm hoping to get out there again and try some of these tips, even tho at the moment I'm limited and will be swinging a floating 6 wt line.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Small Baitfish and Crashing Fish in Reservoirs

    I agree with ahill123 and fr8dog, small clousers, slow sinking line. I will also use deceivers, half and half's and gummies. These all produce. My favorite line here is RIO outbound short intermediate: less false casting (typically only 1-2), easy long distance for those sporadic boils. I particularly like a size 6 pink clouser, not sure why, but the striper seem to really like pink, white and chartreuse. I give it a 10 count after the cast if they are not actively coming up. I tend to retrieve very quickly, with short fast strips and an occasional 3-5 sec pause. The stripes often hit on the pause. Remember that big fish need more oxygen, so if the lake is just beginning to cool, the big ones are still going to be near the thermocline until the lake turns over and its stratification has deteriorated. In my home lake, this is usually around 20 to 30' until the end of September. But if the lakes and res. you are fishing have murkier or cooler water (never reaching 85), you may have a shallower thermocline, or none at all. Target the depth at which you mark the most fish on your graph once the fish have gone down. This is where the largest ones will be. Getting their attention may require a longer countdown, heavier clouser, or faster sinking line. Once the water has turned and the fish are more active on top, you should be able to throw almost anything at a feeding striper and hook up. Also, if you don't use them already I'd try a loop knot.

    Good luck,
    Chad

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